Ferry Weertman is the king of open-water marathon swimming. After a stunning finish in Copacabana Bay at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, he managed to hit the finishing line before Greece’s Spyridon Giannotis, who had overtaken him a few moments earlier in the final chute. He had to call his friends in the Netherlands in order to believe his Olympic victory was true. Since then, he has followed up on his success, becoming the 2017 world champion in the waters of Lake Balaton, Hungary, before being crowned European champion in Glasgow’s Loch Lomond in 2018.
At the Gwangju World Championships in Korea, he failed to reach the podium in the 10km, the only Olympic distance, but his 7th place finish earned him one of 10 qualifying spots for the Tokyo 2020 Games. “I have mixed feelings,” he explained after the race. “I was aiming for a medal, of course. But I’m glad I qualified for the Games. I was feeling good, but it was hard getting my head up during the final two laps.”